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One of the Munich attackers then lived in Berlin: report

German police knew that one of the Palestinians who took Israeli athletes hostage during the 1972 Munich Olympics lived in Berlin for several years following the attack, the Suddeutsche Zeitung daily wrote on Saturday.

On September 5, 1972, eight gunmen of the Palestinian militant group Black September stormed into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

The three remaining hostage-takers were captured, but released weeks later in an exchange when gunmen hijacked a Lufthansa plane on October 29, 1972, and demanded their release.

Incensed by the chain of events, Israel subsequently launched the operation “Wrath of God” to hunt down the leaders of Black September.

On Saturday the German daily said that one of the three Palestinians who was released then lived for years in Berlin, citing a report in Munich police archives.

According to the report, the Munich police — which was in charge of investigating the attack — was told by the BKA federal police that the Palestinian in question was living in West Berlin and that he went to East Berlin almost daily, to work at the office of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO).

When contacted by AFP, Bavaria’s interior ministry had no immediate comment.

Following the release of the three hostage-takers, a theory made the rounds that then West Germany had facilitated the release in order to avoid any more operations by Palestinian militants on its territory.

“We can pose the question if the police really wanted to act or if they wanted to give up arresting someone to avoid a new attack by Palestinian militants” in West Germany, German historian Dominik Aufleger, who had access to the same documents as the paper for his research on the attack, told the daily.

Marking the 50th anniversary of the attack this September, Germany sought “forgiveness” from families of the Israeli victims.